It was this past fateful rainy Sunday that I decided to make a pilgrimage to the Renaissance Faire or as I started to call it “ren faire bro”. I was invited by some friends who decided to brave the weather and split a zip car, so I figured it certainly beat my usual rainy Sunday activities of drinking too much and watching Buffy reruns. They were also bringing along their 4 year old so I figured I could hide my excitement behind the guise of “just going for the kid”. But who as I kidding, how often do you get to see hordes of people dressed up in period costume and be asked if I’d like to “give them $4 to see what’s under their cloak?”.
I use the word “period” loosely, because it seemed like most of the people there just wore whatever velvet thing they had in their closest. There were pirates, sort of Mad Max looking dudes wearing pleated leather, and plenty of bouncing bosoms to spare. Bonus points to the 60+ woman with a see-through white blouse in the rain and both nipples pierced. You my girl! There were also a lot of horn headbands and tribal tattoos, but I digress.
To those of you unfamiliar with this fringe culture, the Renaissance Fair first started back in 1963 in Agoura, California. They are usually set around the time of Queen Elizabeth I, but many fairs involve any type of medieval time period, vikings, witches, elves you name it. There are over 244 fairs that take place all over the country, some of which involved permanent buildings which sometimes gives it a weird Disneyland Main Street vibe. But these fairs are a far cry from Disney. You can tell these people take what they’re doing seriously and I love them that much more for it. There’s nothing worse than Robin Hood breaking character to answer his cell phone.
Even if you don’t have a slutty fairy costume, or a corset collecting dust in your closet you can still dress up for the affair. There’s a costume rental right as you enter, so it’s up to you if you’re feeling like a lady or wench. The grounds on which the faire take place are beautiful. The New York faire takes place in Tuxedo Park , NY up in the Hudson Valley on 60 acres of land. There’s arched bridges, swampy moats complete with “dragons” and giant open spaces perfect for jousting.
Besides the obvious people watching, the faire offers plenty of entertaining options in its own right. You can master your knife and axe throwing skills, practice archery, dance around the may pole, learn the arts of glass blowing, and watch a game of live chess. To fuel all these taxing activities, there’s plenty of turkey leg and “authentic” Sam Adams beer to fill up on. Despite a few wild cards that seemed out of place (seriously what’s up with the camels?”, the Faire seems to be a cohesive village as you wander around its winding paths and peak your head into yet another shop selling dragon wind chimes.
Mock it you want, but I could tell these people were having a blast. Even when the rain flooded the fairgrounds and our party was forced to take off our shoes and wade barefoot through more than ankle deep water, these people just lifted their crushed-velvet slips high and merrily sang their way through the rain. It was at the time, I too, wished I brought a pair of lace-up boots and a wool cape to weather the storm with. While the Ren Faire ain’t cheap (it’s $16 Labor Day weekend), it’s totally worth the trip. And if you can’t make it upstate before it’s over, there’s always this LARP (Live-Action-Role-Play) inspired movie to satiate your curiosity.
Editor’s promise: Next week’s posts will include a lot less coverage of comic books and the Renaissance Fair and much more boobs and Budweiser.